Mar 16, New Delhi: India's External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Thursday said India is taking up the issue of fishermen with the Sri Lankan government through diplomatic channels.
Making a statement in the Lok Sabha, the External Affairs Minister said the Indian Government, through diplomatic channels, has consistently taken up issues relating to apprehension of fishermen with the Government of Sri Lanka to ensure that Indian fishermen are treated in a humane manner.
She said after the incident where Sri Lanka Navy allegedly fired at Indian fishermen resulting in the death of a fisherman and injuries to another, the Government, through diplomatic channels, took up the matter urgently with the Government of Sri Lanka and expressed "our strong concern" over the incident. The Sri Lankan side has, however, denied the involvement of their Navy in the firing incident.
She said the Indian High Commissioner personally spoke to Sri Lankan Prime Minister and Navy Commander on this matter. The Sri Lanka Navy however maintained that their patrol boats are not authorized to open fire at any point on Indian fishermen even if they are transgressing into the Sri Lankan waters.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka, in a separate statement, conveyed their deep concern over the firing and loss of life, reiterating the commitment of the Government of Sri Lanka to ensure that all Government agencies treat Indian fishermen in a humane manner at all times, she informed the Lok Sabha.
"The Sri Lankan Government has further reassured us that all possible action will be taken in cooperation with the relevant Indian authorities to investigate the incident."
The President of Sri Lanka has also conveyed to Indian Vice President his regret at the unfortunate incident and the loss of life. He emphasized that he has ordered a full investigation.
"We will be pursuing this matter with the Sri Lankan Government," Minister Swaraj said.
"We have strongly conveyed to Sri Lanka that the use of force cannot be justified under any circumstances," the Minister said reassuring the members that the Government of India accords the highest priority to promote the wellbeing, safety and security of its fishermen.
Minister Swaraj said the Indian Government continues to remain engaged with the Government of Sri Lanka to ensure that the rights of the detained Indian nationals are protected and that the fishermen on both sides can continue to pursue their livelihood in a safe, secure and sustainable manner.